13 bizarre comic books based on TV shows
Move over, Batman! Here comes Adam-12, Burke's Law and Family Affair!
In modern Hollywood, studios look to the comic book industry for ideas. It used to be the other way around. In the 1960s and 1970s, publishers like Gold Key Comics and Dell filled the racks with licensed comic books based on popular television shows. Some series — the Westerns, spy adventures and sci-fi extravaganzas — made obvious jumps to the printed page. Kids could pick up colorful stories about The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., The Rifleman, Star Trek and The Wild Wild West at the local drugstore.
There were some less expected TV comic books, as well. Doctors, detectives, aliens, single fathers, governors and silly cops from the small screen earned their own titles. Here are some classic television shows you might not have realized spawned comic books.
Gold Key, 1973–76
The cop series starring Martin Milner and Kent McCord was known for its realism. Creator Jack Webb wouldn't have it any other way. We're guessing he had little say in the comic, which depicted Pete Malloy and Jim Reed facing off against Satan himself.
Ever wonder what "Burke's Law" was exactly? Well, according to this panel, the rule states, "Never try to digest the facts of a murder on an empty stomach." Then again, the comic did take some liberties with detective Amos Burke, title character of the 1963–66 series. This issue read more like a Scooby Doo mystery, right down to the hungry protagonist.
Car 54, Where Are You?
New York City police cars of the era were green. On the comic cover we see a nifty production trick from the sitcom. The patrol cars were painted red to look better in black & white and to set them apart from the real thing on city streets while filming.
Richard Chamberlain's handsome doc translated into two different illustrated mediums — comic books and daily strips. The newspaper strip started in 1962 and ran over two decades until 1984!
Gold Key, 1970
Near the end of its run on CBS, this family sitcom about a bachelor raising his brother's orphans made an unexpected leap to comicdom. Gold Key published four issues of this title, featuring stories such as "The kids and Mr. French have a surprise birthday party for Uncle Bill."
The Governor and J.J.
Gold Key, 1970
No, those are not Michael Caine and Jane Fonda look-alikes showing up at a party. Gold Key was reaching at the start of the 1970s, digging through the CBS lineup. This series — about a widowed Midwestern governor and his spunky "first lady" daughter — ran a brief 39 episodes. Yet it had three issues of a comic series, too.
Gold Key, 1979–80
Happy Days merchandise was everywhere. Kids could fall asleep to Fonzie cartoons under Fonzie sheets with their Fonzie dolls. A comic book was inevitable. The artist took some liberties with the characters, to say this least. Check out this Chachi.
My Favorite Martian
Gold Key, 1964–66
There are no special effects budget restraints in a comic book. On the TV show you would never see Ray Walston climbing into a robot. Fortunately, this cover to Issue 2 does just that. Two issues later, an alien animal that looked a bit like Dino from the Flintstones shows up.
Gold Key, 1963
Like The Patty Duke Show and Naked City, The Nurses was the rare show to film in New York City, set in the fictional Alden General Hospital. In this final issue, nurse Gail Lucas (Zina Bethune) must perform surgery.
Erle Stanley Gardner published over 70 Perry Mason books. Alas, Perry Mason Mystery Magazine would publish a mere two issues. The first issue opens with a man dumping a box of eyeballs onto a desk.
Welcome Back, Kotter
DC Comics, 1976–78
The Sweathogs made it to the big leagues! Comics giant DC published 10 issues of the Kotter comic. These are worth picking up for the ads, too, which feature characters like Batman and Green Lantern pushing Hostess treats, not to mention awesome Saturday morning cartoon lineups illustrated by Neal Adams.
The Twilight Zone
Dell/Gold Key/Whitman, 1962–82
Okay, a comic book based on The Twilight Zone is not a bizarre concept. It makes perfect sense. No wonder it lasted two decades and 92 issues. The stories inside, however, are the definition of bizarre. It's The Twilight Zone! Issue 84 features the first work by legendary artist-creator Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil, 300).
Wait, there's more! We ranked all 10 covers of the 'Welcome Back, Kotter' comic.
Skunks, goons, helicopters and mustaches! The artists got quite creative with these covers.